During a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the mental health challenges that many struggle with, particularly for children and youth, EMPWR MAG has started it’s efforts in organizing the world’s largest youth mental health conference and the largest mental health conference in the MENA, hosting Canadian Minister of Youth at EMPWRNG MNDS on July 18.
Ally Salama, an Egyptian-Candian Mental Health Ambassador, received a grant by the Federal Government of Canada’s TakingITGlobal program (#RisingYouth) to help organize the “EMPWRNG MNDS” online conference.
The conference aims to search for solutions around common mental health challenges arising today, raise awareness, build a network of youth mental health leaders, and push for resources for youth leaders to navigate the problems surrounding mental health in today’s mental health epidemic.
“The whole idea behind empowering minds is almost like Al Gouna Film Festival, which helps push the film industry forward. In this case, we are trying to push for an ecosystem that supports mental health research and funding, and connect people who want to be psychologists to share knowledge and push the movement forward,” Salama tells Egyptian Streets.
It will touch upon several topics, such as harnessing the power of online communities for post-COVID world and how youth movements can utilize community building tools in today’s digital world to overcome challenges during self-isolation.
The conference will also focus on the availability of mental health resources during COVID-19, looking at how governmental interventions can help youth in marginalized communities, how youth can find mental health resources during and post COVID-19, as well as highlighting key organizations that can be of benefit.
“We can utilize the data from the conference as a tool to test any of the latest mental health initiatives or strategies, and use the platform and event to provide highly educational and entertaining mental health education,” Salama adds.
Most importantly, however, is to push for a youth-driven mental health movement in Egypt and the Middle East, which eventually grows and ends up creating a large association such as the 57357 Children’s Cancer hospital to collect research and data.
“The more resources are directed to mental health research and data, the more people will be aware of their mental health and will able to live a much better life,” he adds.
According to UNICEF, a data snapshot revealed that measures taken to contain the pandemic in Egypt, such as the closure of the schools, have affected youth’s social and behavioral development and made them vulnerable to various types of violence and mental health issues.
On top of that, employment struggles, particularly for those transitioning from education to the labor market, can result in a rise in mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.
EMPWR was founded by Ally Salama in 2019, which is the first mental health and wellness magazine in the Middle East, with an aim to become the largest mental health ecosystem in the Middle East.
It covers several topics that provide informative articles that can positively enhance the mental wellbeing of millennials in the region.
Currently, in light of the recent sexual harassment and rape cases against Ahmed Bassam Zaki, the platform launched a campaign to link survivors to therapists and ensure that resources are easily accessible during times of quarantine.